Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Kicking off class #2 - Richard Wheater and Neon Whimsy

Today we begun the second class with the brilliant (and dapper) Richard Wheater.

This class is sensational. I feel like we've been whisked into another world. Or at least, back in time 60 or so years.
For a start, Richard is quite a character. Dressing in an array of two piece suits and suspenders that wouldn't be entirely out of place at a swing dance retrospective, and playing a constant soundtrack of gentle jazz, Wheater's classes are something of a performance. Which doesn't surprise me, given the performative nature of his work. (Definitely check it out, if you're not familiar with it -

For another thing, the studio is so BEAUTIFUL. Instead of using standard glass cutters, there's bespoke cutters with the "neon workshops" logo carved into the wooden handle. Instead of regular steel workbench frames, everything is powder coated a fantastic colour. Instead of enclosed machinery, the fancy neon equipment is encased in perspex so you can see the cool mechanisms. Instead of old icecream punnets or tupperware containers, electrode samples are kept in old cigar boxes.
This is a beautiful, BEAUTIFUL studio set up to be working in.

The next fantastic thing about this class is old friends in new places!! Wonderful Billie Crellin, who I overlapped study with at the Sydney College of the Arts glass studio, has been doing the Glass Gypsy thing for the last couple years. And - lucky me - his travels have brought him to North Lands!!
Australia, we will have some beers and toast to you.

And of course, there's the neon. I can't get over this stuff. It's fascinating!
We spend a good chunk of the morning learning basic lamp working, which I've never given a decent stab at before.
Richard, giving demos

and giving Sasha (and the rest of us) a hand with our first goes.
We spent the afternoon exploring Lybster, the harbor and headlands. We've a few generators, so there's interesting potential for outdoor or site specific neon works... watch this space!

Found this fierce fella in town
Straight back to it tomorrow. I can't wait to start sharing our neon masterpieces!

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